Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another Quiet Hockey News Week Passes This Summer But...

Well Caps Fans, another quiet hockey news week is in the books as I write this post, but at least the Capitals are starting to be mentioned in the rumor mill. The rumor is of course that Eric Belanger will be back and there is some other trade in the works so the Capitals have held off filing "Belli's" contract and asked he and his agent to delay making any statement until they complete the trade and do so. While I am neutral on the return of Belanger, (I can see many ways it could/would make sense and a few where it would not) I am quite happy, almost giddy with the other part of the rumor. The other part being that the trade involves sending Tomas Fleischmann to another team; as readers of this blog know, while I really have no ax to grind with "Flash" or his latest contract, I just don't think he is the right fit here and now for the Capitals. That along with the fact, I think it's time for the Capitals to totally live in the here and now, especially come March 2011, is why I would be delighted if they were to deal "Flash" and get something in return that the vast majority of folks think the Capitals need. I'm not going to say what that is or should be at this point. However I think everyone can think of two or even three things that despite ongoing debate we'd all be able to agree would be more critical to the Capitals ability to make a run at the Stanly Cup, than another 20+ goal scorer on top of the other members of the Capitals high octane corps of forwards. However, I still haven't seen or heard anything with the trade deadline right here and now except Brian Burke says Tomas Kaberle will still be with the Maple Leafs at the start of the season, if the offers he's seen so far are all he can get for him. SO when will GMGM and some other club's GM be making an announcement we all will be happy to hear?

In any case it appears "Belli" is coming back, he was a trade deadline pickup who seemed to work out. I say seemed because at times because he seemed fantastic and he sure showed a ton of grit in the playoffs, though at other times he was just average. I think the jury is still out whether he will/can be the second or third line pivot for the Capitals but there is no question in my mind that when it comes to "grit" and at the very least displaying/leading in that manner in the locker room, at least through example, Belanger is a solid addition to the Capitals. I liked what Brendan Morrison showed during the first half of last season and I'm optimistic that Belanger can deliver it all season long.

The big question still remains if there is no deal that brings any clear choice for second line center to Washington before the start of Camp and the season who will it be? Right now assuming the Belanger rumors are true, I'm thinking that right now the second line is Semin - Belanger - Laich and the third line ought to be Fleischmann - Steckel - Fehr while the first line stays Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble and the usual fourth line is Gordon - Perrault/Beagle - Bradley. That's a nice/good lineup however, I don't see where it upgrades anything from the end of last season. So are the changes/new blood on the blue line going to be what the Capitals need? Right now those changes basically involve promoting John Carlson and Karl Alzner up from the AHL - I'm comfortable both are ready to do so, but are they enough and ready to follow the leadership of Tom Poti and Mike Green to the Stanley Cup Finals? Especially given that right now we'll have them all backstopped by two inexperienced, young goaltenders?

Well this will be only my seventh season as a declared, "out", 100% Washington Capitals fan - as most readers know I grew up in Philly and was one of those Flyers fans you've always hated. It will be our sixth season as Season Ticket holders and I'm still very excited about the Capitals prospects in 2010-2011. I just have no idea how they will do this year. I'm pretty sure, actually comfortable, they will once again make the playoffs, though I expect both Carolina and Tampa Bay to be much stronger in the regular season this year compared to last. I'm just struggling to see what adjustments relative to personnel they are making to improve the team and change the results from last year's playoffs. Now maybe they've concluded what they need to change isn't related to personnel but rather in the style, strategy and tactics they will have the personnel employ in 2010-2011. Who knows, I just hope it continues to be as fun to watch them as it has been these last 3 seasons. However, if it's a little less fun during the regular season and I'm still watching them play in May 2011, I'm okay with that - "hey, that's just how I roll".

Well is it September yet?



Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

What are your thoughts on a tougher regular season being a good thing for our playoff results? I can't help but to think if we had to play harder to win regular season games, and make the playoffs, we would be more prepared for taking the next step come playoff time. I am not totally convinced that is true--I think we play plenty hard in the regular season--but we coasted big time in our division last year and maybe that hurt us in preparing for the playoffs.

Paul R.

Usually Frustrated Caps Fan said...


I definately think the Caps wrapping up the SE Division so early and for that matter the Regular Season for the Eastern Conference led to them having about 10 or so games at the tail end of the season when they played as much or more for individual statisitics as they do for team wins and that wasn't a good way to prepare for the playoffs....